03/13/2012 08:08 EDT | Updated 05/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Tentative agreement reached with part-time hospital workers across Alberta

EDMONTON - The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says it has reached a tentative agreement with Alberta Health Services for 22,000 General Support Services employees across the province.

The three-year deal would be retroactive to April 1, 2011.

It includes a wage increase of three per cent each year for the life of the contract and shift and weekend premium rates equal to other Alberta Health Services union contracts by 2013.

The union says satisfactory improvements to hours of work, stat holidays, layoff and recall language, part-time definitions and classifications have also been reached.

Union president Guy Smith calls it "an important deal for the largest single health-care bargaining unit in Alberta."

He says the workers involved are "essential to safe, quality health care" in the province.

“This group of mainly female staff — who work mostly part time — kill deadly hospital bacterias, sterilize surgical equipment, transfer patients, are therapy aides, unit clerks and much more," Smith said in a news release.

"They work very hard and this agreement’s aim is to recognize the essential roles they perform in the delivery of health care to Albertans."

Both the union and Alberta Health Services are recommending ratification, but details of when the vote will take place have not yet been worked out.

It's the same group of hospital employees who staged a one-day wildcat strike in mid-February after the employer tabled an offer less than the rejected report.

Mediation and arbitration began soon after.